Last Thursday at Harrah’s Theater, The Art of Striptease kicked off this year’s annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival with all the classic elements of a Bourbon Street burlesque show circa 1945-1965. The festival, which was founded and created in 2009 by New Orleanian Rick Delaup, brought three nights of stellar Burlesque performances to New Orleans, showcasing traditional burlesque in all its glamour, playful naughtiness and class.
During intervals between acts, emcee Vincent Drambuie, who “obviously never gets laid with initials like those,” entertained the audience with great command. He delivered clever, sometimes raunchy and self-loathing humor so naturally and smoothly that it seemed off-the-cuff.
In addition to the younger set of dancers, who, according to V.D. have “more curves than that weird magic wand you found under your mom’s bed,” we were also treated to performances by burlesque legends from the mid-20th century burlesque heyday, Wild Cherry and Bambi Jones. Wild Cherry kept her clothes on but delivered a salacious comic routine to a rollicking audience that explained how a French girl drives a car. At 80 years old, Bambi also won the audience over with a striptease punctuated by comic relief.
In all, the best part of the Art of Striptease was its nostalgic atmosphere, to which the entire cast contributed. The costumes, music, dancing, magic and comedy all coalesced to maintain the precarious burlesque balance between naughtiness and class.
Don’t miss next year’s event. There’s a little something (or a lot) for everyone at this burlesque showcase.
Emily Yonker writes about New Orleans for NolaVie.